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Reading, rapping, arithmetic at MKE Excellnce

A first year Milwaukee Public Schools charter school at 24th and Hampton in Milwaukee has a principal dead serious about three things: reading, rhyming and arithmetic.

School days at Milwaukee Excellence Charter School start with the morning meeting and the morning meetings start with founder and Principal Maurice Thomas rapping.

“The morning meeting allows me to set the culture of the school. I want a culture that is academic but is also joyous. We call it rigor and joy.” said Principal Thomas.

Thomas was a player in American education, the executive director of Teach for America – Milwaukee when he decided to bring his vision for school to his hometown.

“I’m teaching kids that being black and being smart is cool.” Thomas said. “This is a place where it’s ok to be nerdy. It’s ok to show off a little bit with your academics.”

Milwaukee Excellence launched at the beginning of this school year with 6th grade only. Next year it’s 6th and 7th grade, adding classes every year until it becomes a 6th-12th grade school.

“I think we’re creating something that is working.” said Thomas. “I feel very good about where we are but next year I want it to be three times better.”

When Thomas raps in the morning meeting, he raps about doing homework, about reading and about going to college. He says he’s using the beats the kids know to refocus them on their educations.

“It’s really saying, can I create something that’s more joyous and more fun than anything out there?” Thomas said. “I’m going to be more engaging than Future and Migos and Drake.”

“I always tell them, I’m better than Drake. Right?” he said. “Because I can be a Principal and rap. Drake is just a rapper. So, come hang with me. I’m cooler than Drake.”

Milwaukee Excellence is enrolling students now for 6th and 7th grade next year. Thomas says there are about 15 seats left in each grade.

Watch a more in depth version of this story this weekend on CBS 58 Sunday Morning with Mike Strehlow beginning at 7 AM Sunday.

Thomas gave CBS 58 the lyrics to a couple of his rhymes. See them below:

6th grade, 6th grade set to Wicked by Future
Woke up in the morning where's my black belt?
Woke up in the morning where's my black belt?
6th grade 6th grade
6th grade 6th grade
Gotta stay in my books like John Hayes
He read two books in one day
6th grade 6th grade
6th grade 6th grade
Learning Spanish like Tony and Mekhi
Josiah and Tyson think they fly
6th grade 6th grade
6th grade 6th grade
No recess, detention, and demerits
But if you want JJs chicken, I need some merits
6th grade 6th grade
6th grade 6th grade
Zavieona, Aryanna, and Charianna
In seven years, Harvard gettin' all the Anna's
6th grade 6th grade
6th grade 6th grade
I need my Howard Boys to set the right example
Take only one snack, we don't provide samples
6th grade 6th grade
6th grade 6th grade
Cal Bears, stay in school get that knowledge
Even for Emoni, it's a tough college
6th grade 6th grade
6th grade 6th grade
What's that coming from the lunch room?
It's the Badgers talking in the lunch room
6th grade 6th grade
6th grade 6th grade
Jeremiah and Jaliya small but mighty
Like Mr. Thomas you're smart and tiny
6th grade 6th grade
6th grade 6th grade
Students, we love your intelligence
You bring it everyday at Milwaukee Excellence
6th grade 6th grade
6th grade 6th grade

Mr. Thomas | Do My Homework to the beat of Migos T-shirt
Mama told me, do my homework
Five days a week, 6 pages of homework
Mama told me, do my homework
Five days a week, 6 pages of homework
Young Bison poppin, with a pocket full of merits
Harvard Crimson rocking, stay avoiding the demerits
Cal bears learnin’, when I’m calling all the parents
We need some healthy lunch, can you pass this boy some carrots
6th grade jumpin’ (jumpin)
Math scores bumpin (bumpin)
Students never slumpin’ (slumpin)
Your school cant tell us nothin (nothin)
6th grade cocky (aye)
We’re born in north Milwaukee (waukee)
A lot of schools copy (copy)
None of them can stop me (no one)
Students call me Mo T. (Mo)
Versace is my hobby (aye)
Flow so sick, gotta send it to Ms. Schoppy
Jumpin’ out your seats in the class, it’s a MAP test
With a fidget spinner and pencil we can do our best
Mama asked me, son, when they rapping gon’ quit
This Milwaukee Excellence and you know that we stay lit
Young Bison poppin, with a pocket full of merits
Harvard Crimson rocking, stay avoiding the demerits
Cal bears learnin’, when I’m calling all the parents
We need some healthy lunch, can you pass this boy some carrots
Mama told me, do my homework
Five days a week, 6 pages of homework
Mama told me, do my homework
Five days a week, 6 pages of homework

H to the O M E to the wiz ORK
So crumpled up drive Ms. Holifield berserk
H to the O M E to the wiz ORK
That's the anthem put your college arms up
Born in Milwaukee, packers and bucks
Having perfect homework doesn't take much luck
Start with the header Name, class, and date
You get zero points if you turn it in late
Keep your pencils sharp to make the writing legible
What's on this homework got it smelling like a lunchable
Howard and Harvard Wisconsin and Cal
No you may not do your homework with a pal
Yes I know, so much homework is a pain
But come on, is that a Grease stain
Chicken or catfish, maybe from a biscuit
Homework smelling like dinner on Christmas
H to the O M E to wiz ORK
So many stains drive Ms. Sanchez bizerk
H to the O M E to the wiz ORK
That's the anthem put your college arms up
H to the O M E to the wiz ORK
So crumpled up drive Ms. Holifield berserk
H to the O M E to the wiz ORK
That's the anthem put your college arms up

Mask Off Future | Hats Off
Go to college. Read and go to college.
Go to college
Read, and go to college
Rep the X
Gotta rep the X
Chase a grade
Make sure you graduate
Hats on,
Forget it, Hats off
Hats on,
Forget it, Hats off
Go to college
Read, and go to college
Chase a grade
Make sure you graduate
Taurean
dancing with the crew
From Thoreau
Now he goes to the best school
Jalaigha
30 books read in the game
Hat swag
In a whole another domain
Jerrico
Always boostin my adrenaline
Wanna play
Better go to detention and
Josiah
Always reading the black history
Red hair
That's still a mystery
Sam Maclain
Grades are insane
Got Straight A’s
When he not playin no games
Ashanti
Where is Ashanti
Somebody tell me
Have you seen ashanti ?
(HOOK)

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